Don’t Hate, Let’s Skate: Skaters host AAPI Heritage Month solidarity event at local rink

By Rachel Ly, May 11, 2021

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, West Coast skaters are coming together to host a donation-encouraged skate event at Wingate Park in Covina, California on May 15.

The event, located about 6 miles from Cal Poly Pomona, is free, and all fundraised proceeds will go to three organizations: Asian Mental Health Collection, Asian Women Alliance and AAPI Women Lead. Their goal is to raise at least $2000 for these causes in total.

According to USA Today, there has been a 164% increase in Asian hate crimes reported to the police in the first quarter of 2021. As the rate of Asian hate crimes continues to rise, a group of nine AAPI roller skaters are co-hosting this event in solidarity with the victims of xenophobia.

The main host of the event, Joannah Castro, is a Las Vegas-based skater. She envisioned the idea after seeing two of her AAPI skater friends, Rubina Bernabe and Lisa Linh, come together for a collaborative photoshoot. She decided to reach out to Bernabe and other skaters to create a meet-and-greet that supports the cause.

“I wanted to do content to represent AAPI and celebrate AAPI heritage month and do a mini documentary on it,” Castro said. “It has now ascended into something huge and something I never dreamed of. I never thought that it would gain as much traction as it has and I am honestly mind-blown at how supportive the skate community is as a whole.”

Courtesy of Linda Cheung

Collectively, the group’s direct outreach has extended to more than 475,000 people for the meet-up and more than 100 people are expected to attend the event.

“The purpose of the event is to bring solidarity, shed light on AAPI hate crime and uplift young Asian Americans,” added Castro. “Growing up, there were no AAPI members to look up to. Almost all of my idols I had as a child were white so knowing that we will be able to help young Asian Americans be proud of their heritage means so much to me.”

The meet-up will take place in an outdoor setting and attendees are encouraged to wear masks to keep the people around them safe.

Another co-host of the event, Lisa Linh, is a lifestyle blogger and skater residing in Pasadena, California. On her platform, she advocates for mental health and brings awareness to everyday inequalities.

Linh said, “When I started blogging in 2014, the AAPI community was heavily underrepresented in campaigns. To see so many amazing and talented AAPI skaters makes me feel like I finally fit in somewhere. This event gives all of us a place to be safely heard and celebrate Asian joy too.”

On Instagram, Linh reaches more than 80,000 followers and counting. She started skating in October 2020 and documented her journey ever since.

She added, “Activism means utilizing your platform, no matter how small your following is. It means collectively playing a part whether it is simply speaking to your own group of friends about what’s going on or ensuring your boss doesn’t make that inappropriate

‘joke’ again.”

According to CPP’s undergraduate diversity report, 22% of undergraduate students are part of the AAPI community. There are many ways to show solidarity with the community—this includes speaking up, attending events, donating, having conversations with loved ones and spreading awareness on social media.

Linda Cheung, a San Gabriel Valley resident and roller skater, documents her skate journey daily for people to follow. She is also co-hosting the event and encourages people to show their activism, even if they cannot attend the event.

Cheung said,” If anyone that cannot attend the event would like to participate, please research the organizations we’re donating to and choose from there who you’d like to donate to! If you can’t donate, continue to spread awareness on your social media platforms, educate yourselves, have conversations to help educate others.”

This event is open to everybody with a pair of skates. All students, staff and faculty are welcomed to attend the meet-up.

Feature image courtesy of Lisa Linh.

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